The reds, made predominantly from Mencía, are fragrant and lighter bodied, especially those that come from the dramatically beautiful slopes of the Ribeira Sacra (right in the heart of Galicia), while they gain density and concentration further inland in Bierzo. The best examples are Burgundian in style while the entry level wines are reminiscent of good Beaujolais with a wild accent. The whites from the coast, be it the lightly effervescent Txakoli from the Basque region or the Rias Baixas signature grape albariño, are bright and zesty, with mouth-watering acidity and a saline edge. Wines from the granitic slopes of Valdeorras and the godello grape are weightier with greater affinity to oak, often pleasing chardonnay drinkers.
The Continental block, which covers the entirety of the Central Meseta plateau, is characterised by a high diurnal temperature range. The warm and sunny days are an assurance for ripeness, while cooler nights and altitude, play an essential role for acid retention. tempranillo here reigns supreme. In Ribera del Duero and Toro, where this grape is better known respectively as Tinto de Toro and Tinto Fino, its smaller berries can produce wines with perhaps more tannins than a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and a fruit concentration only encountered in great Barossa Shiraz. These wines can handle a lot of new oak and normally take years to soften.
Although the most recent trend is to go for less extraction and new wood, power and muscles remain the main attributes of these wines. Located closer to the ‘neck’ of the Iberian peninsula, La Rioja is more influenced by the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean; wines from Mediterranean vintages show plusher fruit and elevated alcohol while Atlantic-influenced vintages are defined by freshness and savouriness.